• Lake Como
  • Castelrotto in the Dolomites
  • Venice
  • Birth of Venus in Florence's Uffizi Museum
  • Vernazza in the Cinque Terre
  • Leaning Tower of Pisa
  • The Duomo in Siena
  • Assisi
  • Wine Tasting near Orvieto
  • Trevi Fountain in Rome

Tour Questions? Call 425-608-4217

Best of Italy in 17 Days Tour

Rick Steves' Best of Italy tour is exactly that — the very best. Starting on beautiful Lake Como, this tour treats you to Italy's must-see destinations: timeless Venice, Renaissance Florence, Eternal Rome and St. Francis' Assisi. You'll also soak in Italy's quieter side: hill-town vineyards, mountain-ringed Alpine meadows, cliff-clinging Cinque Terre villages, and cozy fishing harbors — all accompanied by memorable meals and local wines. And Rick's guides will make Italy's art, history and dolce vita come vividly to life. Join us for the Best of Italy in 17 Days! 

What's Included

  • A small, friendly group of 24-28 people — half the size of most tour groups
  • Full-time services of a professional Rick Steves guide and local experts who will make the fascinating history, art and culture of Italy come alive for you
  • All tours and admissions — at no extra cost — covering at least 26 group sightseeing events • Lake Como ferry pass • Verona walking tour • South Tyrol Museum of Archaeology (Ötzi the Iceman) • Venice walking tour • Renaissance Florence walking tour • Uffizi Gallery tour • Florence's Accademia Museum (Michelangelo's David) • Pesto demonstration • Cinque Terre hiking pass • Orientation for "vacation" day on Italian Riviera • Pisa visit • Hill town visit • Siena walking tour and Duomo • Siena contrada visit • Artisan workshop visit • Assisi walking tour • Umbrian wine tasting • Orvieto orientation and San Brizio Chapel tour • Evening walk through Rome including Trevi Fountain • Ancient Rome walking tour • Colosseum tour • Roman Forum tour • Pantheon • St. Peter's Basilica • Vatican Museum tour • Sistine Chapel...and more
  • All group transportation from Varenna to Rome
  • 16 nights accommodations in memorable, centrally-located hotels
  • All breakfasts and half your dinners
  • All tips for guides and driver
  • Free stuff including Rick Steves' Italy guidebook, Italy Sightseeing Supplement, Italian phrase book, moneybelt and earplugs
  • Guaranteed tour price, locked in the moment you make your deposit
  • Optional single supplements — this tour has a limited number of private rooms for solo travelers for an additional fee
  • Tour alum discount of $50 for each tour you've taken prior to 2014
  • 50% discount on a consulting appointment with our in-house experts to assist with your pre- or post-tour travel plans
  • Flexibility should you need to transfer, or cancel/interrupt your tour
  • Fine print: You are responsible for the cost of your drinks and free-time sightseeing. See our Tour Conditions Agreement for important details regarding everything listed above

Itinerary

Daily Activity Key
  • Light = 2-4 miles of mostly level walking throughout the day.
  • Moderate = 2-6 miles walking throughout the day with some hills and stairs.
  • Strenuous = 2-8 miles walking throughout the day with lots of hills, stairs and uneven terrain.

Day 1: Welcome to Italy

The sleepy Lake Como village of Varenna is a quick, easy train connection from Milan. Around 5 p.m. you'll meet your guide and fellow tour members at our hotel for a get-acquainted session. We'll then take a village orientation walk, pointing out places for dinner on your own tonight. Sleep in Varenna (2 nights). No bus. Walking: light.

Day 2: Cruising Lake Como

Equipped with your included Lake Como ferry boat pass, you'll have the entire day and evening free to explore the villages and waterways of romantic Lake Como, including the elegant town of Bellagio. Or hike up into the Alpine foothills for unforgettable vistas. At breakfast, your guide can help you plan your day. No bus. Walking: light to strenuous (your choice).

Day 3: Verona and the Dolomites

We'll drive to Verona this morning for a walking tour of the town's medieval center, including the bustling Piazza Erbe market square and the ornate Scaligeri tombs. You'll then have free time to grab some lunch, see “Juliet’s balcony,” and marvel at the Roman Arena — today a popular opera venue. Then we'll drive high up into Italy's Dolomite Alps, where the locals speak German first, Italian second. We'll have a hearty Tirolean dinner together at our Alpine hotel. Sleep peacefully in the Alpi di Siusi area (2 nights). Bus: 6 hrs. Walking: moderate.

Day 4: Hiking the Dolomites

From your totally-yodely home base, you'll have all day to explore the dramatic Dolomites, Italy's hiking and skiing mecca. Choose from an array of challenging hikes, or join your guide (weather permitting) — and the free-roaming cows — for a peaceful walk through Europe's largest Alpine meadow. Maybe you'll even watch colorful paragliders float on the wind as you relax outside a mountain hut café. We'll regroup tonight for dinner at our cozy hotel. No bus. Walking: light to strenuous (your choice).

Day 5: The Iceman and Venice

We'll head downhill from the Dolomites with a stop in Bolzano to visit its most famous resident: the 5,300-year-old, naturally-preserved remains of Ötzi the Iceman, along with a museum exhibit on prehistoric European life. After some free time for lunch, we'll set a course for Venice, where we'll board a vaporetto boat for a Grand Canal ride to our hotel in Venice's historic heart. Tonight we'll take an alleys-and-canals orientation stroll before setting you loose for dinner on your own. Sleep in Venice (2 nights). Boat: ½ hr. Bus: 5 hrs. Walking: light.

Day 6: Exploring Venice

Our local guide will join us this morning for a historical walking tour, with a modern Venetian's-eye view, through the backstreets of Venice. Along the way, we'll learn about the city's remarkable past and its challenging future. The afternoon and evening are yours to explore the imposing Doge's Palace, maybe take in a church concert, waltz on St. Mark's Square, or pub-crawl your way through this unique city. Later tonight, your guide will help organize an optional romantic gondola ride for those who are interested. No bus. Walking: moderate.

Day 7: Florence and David

We'll drive straight to Florence this morning, and hit the ground walking with a Renaissance tour of the city's historic center. We'll see and learn about Brunelleschi's magnificent cathedral dome, Ghiberti's Baptistery doors, and other creations that helped define this world-changing era. We'll end our walk at the Accademia Gallery to marvel at works of sculptural genius: Michelangelo's rough-hewn Prisoners and his greatest masterpiece, David. Sleep in Florence (2 nights). Boat: ½ hr. Bus: 4 hrs. Walking: moderate.

Day 8: Renaissance Florence

This morning we'll devote our time to the breathtaking Renaissance art of the Uffizi — home to the finest collection of Italian paintings anywhere — including works by Leonardo, Botticelli, Michelangelo and more. The rest of the day is yours to stroll across the delightfully medieval Ponte Vecchio, visit more of the city's art-filled churches and museums, browse the colorful markets, and find a special trattoria for dinner on your own. No bus. Walking: moderate.

Day 9: Pisa and Cinque Terre Villages

Winding our way towards the coast, we’ll first stop to gaze at Pisa's leaning tower and Romanesque baptistery. Today's final destination is Italy's enchanting Cinque Terre fishing villages, laced together with hiking paths that meander between vineyards and the deep blue sea. Upon arrival, your guide will give you an introduction to the town, leaving you with plenty of free time this afternoon to explore on your own. We'll regroup tonight for an entertaining pesto-making lesson and special pesto lasagna dinner at a local family restaurant. Sleep in Monterosso (2 nights, may be split between 2 hotels). Train: ¼ hr. Bus: 2¾ hrs. Walking: light.

Day 10: Exploring the Cinque Terre

You'll take a "vacation from your vacation" today in our Mediterranean getaway. Hike along the trails, taking in lots of fresh air and panoramic views between Cinque Terre villages. Or pick a village where you can spend your day exploring the stairways and alleyways, sunning yourself on the rocks, or sipping cappuccino and catching up on your journal at an outdoor café. No bus. Walking: light to strenuous (your choice).

Day 11: Tuscany and Siena

Today we'll venture into the heart of magical Tuscany, stopping on the way to poke around the quiet lanes of a friendly hill town. Saving the best for last, we'll take an orientation tour of our home for the next two nights — remarkable Siena — a "living museum" brimming with some of Italy's finest Gothic architecture and perhaps its best public square, Il Campo. Tonight we'll visit and enjoy dinner at one of the town's proud contrade — 17 neighborhoods that compete for glory in the famous Palio horse races. Sleep in Siena (2 nights). Train: ¼ hr. Bus: 3 hrs. Walking: moderate.

Day 12: Savoring Siena

This morning we'll take a meandering walking tour through this one-of-a-kind hill town. We'll tour the elaborate cathedral and learn how Siena's rich medieval history and rivalry with Florence shaped this city. Then you'll be well oriented for your free afternoon and evening to enjoy Siena, from its dramatic city hall tower to its well-respected enoteca (wine bar/museum). No bus. Walking: moderate.

Day 13: Assisi and Wine Tasting

Let's make a modern-day pilgrimage to the hill town of Assisi where, in a time of unprecedented church wealth, St. Francis inspired a refocused spirituality through poverty, humility, and the beauty of nature in Umbria. As we learn about the life of the saint, we'll take a walking tour of the town and its beautifully-frescoed Basilica of St. Francis. Then we'll wind our way across Umbria to our agriturismo destination: a country hotel that is also a working family winery. We'll end our day amid the peaceful vines and olive groves, tasting several of our host's award-winning wines, and sharing a country-style dinner together. Sleep near Orvieto (2 nights). Bus: 4 hrs. Walking: moderate.

Day 14: Hill Town Italy

This morning we'll visit Umbria's grand hill town of Orvieto. We'll get oriented to sights around the cathedral square, including Signorelli's amazing frescoes in the Chapel of San Brizio and Italy's liveliest cathedral facade. Then you'll be free to wander through the medieval old town and its shops filled with colorful pottery. This afternoon we'll return to our agriturismo, with plenty of time for a countryside walk before dinner together. Bus: 1 hr. Walking: moderate.

Day 15: Ancient and Dolce Vita Rome

Today we'll drive straight to the Eternal City of Rome. We'll get oriented to the city's transportation system, then spend our afternoon on a walking tour through the ancient heart of Rome as a local guide tells us vivid tales of the larger-than-life Colosseum, the awe-inspiring Pantheon, and the birthplace of Ancient Rome: the Forum. Tonight we'll take a floodlit, fountain-splashing, la dolce vita stroll through the heart of Rome, soaking up the city's evening ambiance at the classy Piazza Navona and the magical Trevi Fountain. Sleep in Rome (2 nights). Bus: 2 hrs. Walking: strenuous.

Day 16: Vatican Rome

We'll devote today to Catholic Rome. At the sprawling Vatican Museum we'll tour the seemingly endless collection of treasures as we make our way to the single work of art that dwarfs them all: Michelangelo's Sistine Chapel. We'll then have an orientation to the remarkable St. Peter's Basilica, home to Michelangelo's moving Pietà. You'll have the rest of your day free to wander through this immense church, climb the dome if you're feeling energetic, and explore more of this part of the city on your own (don't forget to taste some refreshing gelato along the way). As it's our final night together, we'll have a grand dinner to share travel memories and toast new friends. Salute! No bus. Walking: strenuous.

Day 17: Tour Over After Breakfast

It's a breeze to reach Rome's airports by taxi or train. Your guide will help you with any post-tour planning, leaving you well prepared for the road ahead. Grazie e ciao!

Itinerary specifics subject to change.

Activity Level

Our tours are physically active! It’s an essential part of the Rick Steves tour experience. On our Best of Italy in 17 Days tour — among other things — you'll need to happily...

  1. Carry/roll your luggage over uneven pavement (several blocks possible) and up stairways to reach your hotel; then up several flights of stairs to reach your room.
  2. Be on your feet, walking and standing for up to three hours, indoors and outdoors, in all weather conditions.
  3. Sleep with street noise and no (or weak) air conditioning.
  4. Be content with the possibility of sharing bathroom facilities at one hotel during this tour.
  5. After orientation and transportation lessons, be able to navigate towns and cities on your own.

 

Reviews

Steve

West Des Moines, IA

Tour: 10/13/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Size of the group was very good and met some people we will probably get together with in the future. It was great having a big and comfortable bus and Deano was fantastic - a good and safe driver and lots of fun to be with. The places we visited were just the things we wanted to see and the length of time at each place was about right except for the day at Ovieto was too long for what there was to see and do. Would have rather gone back and hunted wild boar with Marko. The time at the agrit

Favorite "WOW" moment

"urismo (cont from above) was our favorite place to stay and the food was unbelievable and the scenery great! Probably my biggest WOW was turning the corner and seeing The David. Something you just can't apprec. till you see it."

James

Longmont, CO

Tour: 10/13/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our first trip to Europe; we chose Rich's tour based on the advice of friends who said, " it was the only way to see Italy your first time." They were right! Everything was perfect. Well-paced, great guide, wonderful accommodations.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The food and wine was better than people warned me."

Gary

Los Altos Hills, CA

Tour: 10/13/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Really enjoyed the tour and I was able to break away on my own just about anytime. The independent time is really important for Europe through the backdoor.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The photo opportunities at Lake Como (Villla del Balbianello), the Dolomites, Venice, Florence (Piazzale Michelangelo), Cinque Terre (Vernazza), Siena (Duomo Museum Panorama dal Facciatone), and Rome were just some of the WOWS."

Jae-Dee

Oakdale, MN

Tour: 10/13/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our first tour with a group so I can't compare it but this trip will be hard to measure up to . My favorite part was all the demonstrations: pesto making, carnival mask making, stain glass demo, olive oil production and tasting, wine tasting (and drinking) and the romantic gondola ride our fantastic guide prearranged for our group with live musicians. There was so much packed into every day but we still had time to savor the quaint towns and sneak in a little shopping.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"During our free time in Venice we took in a rare event. The Leonardo da Vinci drawings were on display at the Gallerie dell'Accademia di Venezia. I never in my wildest dreams thought I would see the actual drawing of the Vetruvian man. Thanks for giving us time to be "wowed" without prediction."

Christopher

Downingtown, PA

Tour: 10/13/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was absolutely fantastic. We were wowed off our feet. We thoroughly enjoyed each tour stop and all their sights. Susanna was a wonderful tour guide and our fellow tour mates were friendly and fun.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Being in Firenze and taking in the rich history of the city."

Dominic

West Haven, CT

Tour: 10/09/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Best Journey/Vacation I have had. Trina our Tour Guide, was a Joy to be with and who breathed in to our hearts and souls the richness of every area we visited. Her Descriptions painted a Portrait of the wonders of these Cultures, its People past and present. On a personal note, Trina was my Florence Nightengale when in Venice. I tripped and twisted my right Ankle severly. She assisted and with Ice and elevation of this leg I was able to enjoy this thrilling vacatiion fully. Fantastic Trip.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were too many Wow moments, seriously, this Connecticut Yankee, who's Heritage is Italian was transported back Centuries to walk in the ruins of places Historical in everyway, shape or form. Itlay is one Beautiful Country, and going there at this time in my Life, has brought such Joy and Love to so many other aspects of my Life. When asked how my Trip was, my whole Face Lights Up and you can't shut Me UP. Will Return hopefully soon to pick up where this ended and visit Southern Italy."

J R

Centerville, UT

Tour: 10/09/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Rick Steve's Tour was all that we had been told they were. Very well organized, very well prepared. Professionals all the way.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were too many 'wow' moments to name just one."

David

Wilmington, DE

Tour: 10/09/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I have never traveled "across the pond" before. It seems like I started with the "Rick Steves Super Bowl" of tours. It was truly and outstanding experience. The sequence of where we visited was terrific. The arrangement of meals and activities in each of the places visited was very well planned. There was a wonderful mix of tour time vs. "free time".

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It's like asking me my favorite song, depends on day and mood. There were so many wow moments - Basilica of San Marco, David, the Pieta, the Coloseum & Forum, the visit to "The Forest" contrada. One day we hiked in the Dolomite - in snow! Several days later we were on the beach in the Cinque Terre area. I loved the stained glass studio."

Thomas

Renton, WA

Tour: 10/09/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Based on my previous Rick Steves tour experience, my expectations for this tour were very high. My expectations were met. There were a couple of minor things, if changed, could improve the tour experience. Our guide did an great job adjusting to circumstance out of her control such as a rail strike and snow.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The beauty of the Lake Como and the Dolomite regions."

Jeff

Virginia Beach, VA

Tour: 10/09/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We started out in a comfortable casual and had snacks and wine. From that point forward, our group grew closer and had an entirely wonderful experience - we quickly became family. We all had our differences, preferences and still were able to enjoy all the different events and appreciate the wonder and beauty of Italy together. We especially enjoyed the fact we had time to explore and were given lots of good suggestions for places to see, eat and drink. We ate local foods and wines.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"St Marks Basilica was the first time I was overwhelmed by emotion by the intensity and amount of beauty. As a Catholic, I always enjoyed the art, statues and beauty in our US churches. They cannot compare - and the history behind of this art took my breath away."

Barbara

Oakland, CA

Tour: 10/09/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Trina was fantastic and really made the history, architecture, art and importance of Italy come alive to someone who previously "slept through the art & history of Europe." I really enjoyed the historical overviews from Trina on the bus on the way to the sights we'd be seeing that day. Really helped me understand the timeline, key people and events associated with the area we'd be seeing that day. Also loved the other tips she'd give: how to order hot tea at an Autogrill, find a toilet, etc.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The "wow" moment for me was when our guide, Trina, explained why the "Dark Ages" happened. She shared this knowledge on one of our history talks on our bus somewhere between Florence and Pisa. I never understood how there could be all this magnificent Greek and Roman architecture, art & accomplishment and then Europe suddenly plunged seemingly backwards into illiteracy, superstition, feudalism & poverty. Understanding how this came to be was so helpful to appreciating all I saw in Italy."

Susan

Eugene, OR

Tour: 10/06/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I enjoyed this second trip to Italy. I feel I could now take on travel in Italy on my own, although it was very nice to go with the tour "family". There was a good mix of cultural and historical information provided by our excellent guide, Sarah. I learned what Rick meant by an "active" vacation. We covered more miles, and saw more sights, than we would ever push ourselves to accomplish on our own. No sleeping in on this tour!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I was thrilled when we found our way across Rome on our own, with the skills we had acquired from our guided experiences. It was fun to get lost, and discover we could find ourselves again. Our confidence has grown with these tourist survival skills, and we appreciate everyone who cooperated in providing us with this travel opportunity."

Karen

New Westminster, BC

Tour: 10/06/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The trip exceeded my expectations. Sarah - our guide is very knowledgeable with regards to the places we visited - she always provided information on the site(s) we were visiting prior to arriving and she made the trip exciting and fun. The meals were delicious and I very much enjoyed lunch at the winery. The Gondola ride in Venice and hiking in the Dolomites were highlights.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were so many wow moments. If I had to choose one it would be the evening walk to the Duomo in Florence - it was overwhelming to be there and see the grandeur of it."

Richard

Miller Place, NY

Tour: 10/06/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

My wife and I thoroughly enjoyed the tour. It far exceeded our expectations. Sarah, our guide, was the best. She informed us of every detail possible. We were never disappointed with the recommendations she made for restaurants etc.. We would not hesitate to take another Rick Steves Tour in the future.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Our luncheon at a family owned agriturismo was one of the highlights of our trip. Our gondola ride with the group was also special. The dinner we had on our own in Sienna was in a restaurant called Da Divo. It was situated in an Etruscan cave and the food was great. This was one of Sarah's many helpful recommendations."

Mary

Oceanside, CA

Tour: 10/06/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We had such an amazing time! I was Leary of going on a group tour, but the Rick Steves tour offered enough free time to explore on our own. I was so impressed with all the minute details of how to get around on our own we were given; directions, transportation schedules, tips about local happenings... We never waited for more than a couple minutes for transportation or entrance to the sites. It just all flowed very smoothly.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I had an idea of what the big towns would be like, but I new nothing about the Dolomites. I was so blown away by the incredible beauty of the area!"

James

New Westminster, BC

Tour: 10/06/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I found the trip to be well organized with superior service from our guide(s), hosts, and driver. The Italian people were great too! Generally they always tried to do what they could to make the experience as enjoyable as possible, even if it meant a full bottle of limoncelo on the table at the end of the meal. Who does that here? The tour is heavy on the art, history, and churches with a modicum of food and wine thrown in for good measure. Even fine dining at the Autogrill!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Getting the once over by a smoking hot security guard at the airport. The women are just gorgeous in Italy."

Inger

Vancouver, BC

Tour: 10/06/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I still feel overwhelmed by all the impressions from the tour, they will stay with me forever. The tour provided all I was promised and then some. Sarah Murdoch was an excellent guide and I feel that I now have had a good overview of Northern Italy and am ready to go back and explore on my own. I had a great time and would like to go on another tour, maybe to Sicily with Sarah.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing the inside of Basilica San Marco"

Victor

San Jose, CA

Tour: 10/06/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I am impressed by how much the tour covered in 17 days. I learned a lot. So much art, so much country, so much culture in such a short period of time. The tour was well managed. Sarah is a jewel. She kept the group going and ontime. She hired excellent local guides. Her recomendations for things to do and places to eat were good. The guide book was very valuable to us while there. It enabled us to find places when on our own. I will recommend this tour to my friends.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"This is a hard question to answer. Since much of the trip was a WOW. I would narrow the answer to 1) Hiking in the Alpine Meadow and having lunch at the Ski Shack. 2) The long nighttime Gondola ride in Venice with the singer and accordion player in our Gondola. 3) The Vatican and all its art. This answer does not diminish any of the other sights and experiences. Assisi is a wonderful village, The Domo in Florence is impressive. I could go on and on."

Carol

Portland, OR

Tour: 10/06/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We had a wonderful time on the tour and accomplished exactly what I was hoping to accomplish, i.e., we got a taste of many different areas of Italy. Overall, I think the pace was just right. We really kept moving and were going from early morning to late at night but still had some time to just relax.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were many "wow" moments - meeting the couple in Castlerotto who adored the Castleruther Spaten group, the incredible paintings in the Uffizi Gallery, the wonderful cappuccino's, and the spectacular first sighting of St. Peter's from the hill in Rome at night!"

David

Merced, CA

Tour: 10/06/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

A very well developed schedule and selection of cities which provided an excellent introduction to Italy. I really liked the "free time" which allowed us to "do what we wanted" on many afternoons. Sarah also added a lot of interesting local events which enhanced the cultural experience.

Leonard

Oceanside, CA

Tour: 10/06/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was everything and more than I expected!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My wow! moment was. . . the gondola ride in Venice, the lunch I had in the Jewish Ghetto in Rome, St. Peter's Bascillica..."

Carolyn

Rapid River, MI

Tour: 10/04/13

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

We started in Milan on Oct. 1 and took the train to Varrena on Oct. 3rd. Found the hotel easily and meet with our group. The group was very compatible from the start. All of our expectations were met, we have been to Italy before but not to the northern part and we really enjoyed that area.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Hiking in the Dolomites. I am a "flatlander" and really love beautiful mountains and the gently rolling hills, valleys and the cows. The evening gondola ride in Venice was the best part of Venice; I would say magical. I also loved going to the church in Sienna and seeing the amazing museum. The dinner at the social hall was very cool. I grew up in a Polish neighborhood in the US and we had similar social halls with similar dinners, different food of course."

Joan

Berkeley, CA

Tour: 10/04/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Loved just about everything...could have done without rain but it wasn't too bad. Would have loved more free time just about every place but that would be a longer tour. Two-night stays were wonderful.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Otzi the iceman, Michelangelo's David and Pieta were "wows" for me. Seeing all the hill towns from the bus windows were "wow" moments...made me want to come back to explore each one."

Catheryn

Federal Way, WA

Tour: 10/04/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was the "trip of a lifetime" for us. There were so many times during the trip when the feeling that "I can't believe that I am seeing this in person" feeling came over me! Our tour guide, Ferdi Menghi was exceptional. He was knowledgeable about all the places that we visited, or in some cases, even drove by. The bus driver, Roberto, was great. He did an outstanding job of maneuvering that bus through all the switch-backs and cities of Italy. See you next time!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The entire trip!"

Robert

Federal Way, WA

Tour: 10/04/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Overall, the tour was more thrilling than I imagined. I experienced places and treaures of art, architecture, and history that I've wanted to see all my adult life. The tour packed in a lot in 17 days, and it exposed me to several places that I will visit again in the future. The tour does an excellent job of selecting the "high spots" to visit out of the many possibilities that Italy has to offer. I enjoyed this tour of Italy immensely, and can't wait to go back for a longer stay.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were so many "wow" moments it's hard to choose. But seeing the Leaning Tower of Pisa "up close and personal" truly stands out."

Dolores

El Dorado Hills, CA

Tour: 10/04/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I so enjoyed the areas the tour covered. Each new stop was an adventure and an experience. I loved going from lakes to mountains to ocean to cities, big and small. It was a lovely blend.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Standing in the shadow of Michelangelo's David and looking into his eyes."

John

Greenwood Village, CO

Tour: 10/04/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Ferdi was like a shepherd shushing us around a herd of sheep. His sense of humor and his knowledge of both Americans and Italy helped make this one pleasant experience for me! I think my wife felt it a bit rigorous for her, but the split days with a guided tour in the mornings and free afternoons worked very well, as she took a couple days off while I roamed around with the group. Overall a great value, and relieved me of the stress of planning and figuring transport, tickets, etc, and NO LINES!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Actually, it occurred after I got home. Our first Sunday at church, our Pastor was speaking of Paul at Mars Hill from the Book of Acts. He gave background first, and showed Raphael's painting of the Athens School. A shiver went up my spine as I realized that I had stood before the real thing just a week ago!"

Susan

Elkridge, MD

Tour: 10/04/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I didn't realize how different the various regions of Italy were from each other; this was fascinating and so much fun to experience. Getting to know the other tour members and sharing stories with them over dinner and wine really enhanced my enjoyment of this trip. And I liked the mix of free time and planned activities. My husband and I always thought we preferred traveling on our own. While we still like that, we will likely take another tour like this one.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Hiking through tinkling cowbells in Alpi di Suisi, reading on our terrace overlooking the Umbrian countryside in Orvieto, gliding through the canals of Venice at night, hiking between Monterossa and Vernazza in Cinque Terre, being gobsmacked at the opulence of St. Peter's Basilica, dining with the tour group in the Selva clubhouse in Sienna, seeing glorious and intricate marble floors everywhere - these were a few of my favorite things."

Mary

Walla Walla, WA

Tour: 10/04/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Great group of travelers (22 of us), and our guide, Ferdie, was the proverbial icing on the cake. He planned and executed our travel schedule to the last detail. We also loved our local guides , who all had a wonderful way of infusing historical data with local folklore, making everything they had to say so interesting. Our bus driver, Roberto, got us safely to all our many destinations in the 17 days we were together, and was always on time to pick up and deliver us.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were so many, but I would have to say that our time in Cinque Terre and the Dolomites are at the top of our list of "wow" moments. The hike from Monterosso to Vernazza was challenging and beautiful. The views in the Dolomites begged for us to return one day and spend more time exploring that gorgeous area."

Gene

Walla Walla, WA

Tour: 10/04/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Everything about this tour exceeded our expectations.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Hiking in the Dolomite's and Cinque Terre."

Diane

Alexandria, MN

Tour: 10/04/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Well planned, the group melded well and we felt guided but not controlled. Hotels were perfectly located for access to sights.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Each stop had its own but the Dolomites were an unexpected pleasure."

Virginia

Arnold, CA

Tour: 10/02/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Had a great time!! Everything went smoothly and truly enjoyed Riccardo's knowledge of Italy and his sense of humor. Hotels were fantastic and dinners were delicious. I will definitely recommend this tour to my family and friends and suggest that they try to book it with Riccardo and Keith.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Had a lot of "wow" moments, but seeing the Duomo in Orvietto was amazing."

April

West Vancouver, BC

Tour: 10/02/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This tour exceeded all my expectations. I knew it was going to be good but I was overwhelmed by how wonderful this tour was. I have been on several tours before with other companies and while I enjoyed them very much, this Rick Steves tour was far superior in every way. The friendly people on the tour, the informative guides, the special experiences, the comfortable hotels and perhaps, most of all, the expert organization of the tour overall made for an amazing trip to Italy.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were so many favourite "wow" moments and "am I really here?" and "pinch me" moments. They ranged from the special dinner at the social club in Sienna, to the incredible view from our room at the Pasquale Hotel in Monterosso, to viewing with awe the Sistine Chapel."

Michael

Baltimore, MD

Tour: 10/02/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This tour was so well organized. I loved the itinerary, the pace, the amount of free time, the travel arrangements including the spacious coach. Our tour guide was extraordinary (see below) which made the tour so much more enjoyable. I liked being located in the middle of the towns and within walking distance of the sites. The extra's like the mask maker, stained glass maker, dinner in the contrada and pesto demonstration are touches that make this tour so much better that most.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing the David in Florence was a very emotional meeting. We stayed for a long time marveling at this magnificent statue."

Elliot

Shepherdstown, WV

Tour: 10/02/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This tour was a great introduction to the top places to visit in Italy. The tour director was very knowledgeable and professional. He maintained a good spirit among the group while seeing that things went like clockwork. The other group participants were all a joy to travel with. Not something that can be said about other, non-Rick Steve's tours, that I have been on.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Michelangelo's David and our tour directors enthusiasm for it."

Sheldon

Ann Arbor, MI

Tour: 10/02/13

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

I wish there were a category between "good" and "outstanding." The tour was excellent. Our guide, Riccardo Panareo was good humored, witty, personable and upbeat. It was a pleasure traveling with him. While I loved many things about this tour, one shortcoming preventing an "outstanding" rating was the lack - or erroneous - discussions concerning history, archeology, agriculture and industry.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were many. Difficult to put forth just one: Walking through San Marco Piazza when it was flooded, hiking Cinque Terre between villages, Sistine Chapel, the David, Roman Forum, remains of St. Francis of Assisi and more"

Rita

Ann Arbor, MI

Tour: 10/02/13

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

This was a VERY GOOD tour. The group dynamics were smooth and satisfying. I didn't know if this had something to do with prepping people for a positive attitude or if we just lucked out. No one had a negative attitude or kept us waiting. The tour leader became more skilled as the trip moved along. By the end he proved to be helpful, knowledgeable, funny, flexible and totally likable.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"A fabulous meal prepared by the owner of a hotel in Cinque Terra where she did a pesto demonstration. The hotel was featured in a novel that I was reading while staying there!!! Visiting with the owner of a stained glass art studio which included a demonstration of his work. Meeting the Monk who ran the church above our hotel and being given an in-depth tour of his working/living quarters."

Nancy

Shepherdstown, WV

Tour: 10/02/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We had a great time on our first visit to Italy. The tour was well paced, with a good mix of cities with famous, busy sites, and charming small towns and rural areas. The whole experience was enjoyable, interesting, and fun. The group was congenial and we enjoyed the company. Riding comfortably on the bus with our guide pointing out sites and giving cultural and historical information made travel from place to place a pleasure.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I loved the parade of cows being brought down from the Alpine meadows by farmers in traditional outfits in the Dolomites, while alphorns and local bands played to celebrate the event. The Otzi the Iceman museum was wonderful. I was amazed to see how well-made his clothing and tools were, especially his bearskin cap! Venice was fascinating, and being there to see the Acqua Alta made it even more of an adventure. Hiking at Cinque Terre was gorgeous. The Pantheon was breathtaking."

Lenore

Renton, WA

Tour: 10/02/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Riccardo receives a double A rating. His knowledge of the history and geography was exceptional. His wonderful sence of humor made it a lot of fun, he was just great we all lovd him! Keith was also a double A. His job was to do the "sweep" to see no one got lost........it was something like hearding cats! He was a good addition to the trip we loved him too. The group was a great group, really good people, as usual! The hotels were great,exectional locations.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"We were in a flood in Venece. 10 inches of water we waded through at some places in St. Mark's square. The gondola ride was special. The girl who sang to us had an exceptional beautiful voice. The resort in Orvieto was special, so serene after the crowds and masses of people we had been in. The "Ice man" was so interesting, facinating. The great art work in several places The "cows coming home" in the Dolimites Almost every day a new WOW. As you can see there wasn't just one!"

Barbara

Carlsbad, CA

Tour: 10/02/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our tour guide was fantastic and the varied locations were wonderful! The hotels were located in convenient places and the food was great! I liked that we also had free time to explore on our own. I had no complaints and loved it all!!!!!!!!!!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were many, how can I pick one!!?? At every stop I'd think "this is going to be my favorite place" but then we would move on and I thought again...this is going to be my favorite place!!! So I will pick Siena...the warmth of the church people in preparing our dinner and learning about the horse races."

Barbara

Baltimore, MD

Tour: 10/02/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

My experience was fantastic! I knew exactly what to expect regarding the physical requirements of the tour. The recommendation to pack lightly was imperative as I had to handle my own luggage in some challenging situations. Our hotels were centrally located and generally very comfortable, some even luxurious, with more than sufficient breakfasts. Ricardo and Keith were awesome and Michael was an excellent driver. The local guides were very knowledgeable. My dream trip came true!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Meeting Michelangelo's David in Florence. Ricardo gave us a passionate speech about it's history and the famous sculptor before we approached the statue. When we actually saw it, both my husband and I were reduced to tears. To be in the presence of such a masterpiece was indescribable. My second "wow" moment was seeing Pope Francis in Saint Peter's Square - a totally unexpected event."

Kathleen

Seattle, WA

Tour: 09/29/13

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

An ambitious overview of Italy north of and including Rome. Excellent guide and bus driver, comfortable accommodations, a great mix of herding us through the "basics" and "cannot be missed," with interesting local guides and launching us off on our own for at least half of the time our feet were on the ground.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Wine on the rooftop of our Florence 15th C. "tower" hotel, at sunset, gazing over at the Duomo, City Hall, and down on a private apartment rooftop which had a table and chairs and bed, for sleeping under the stars."

Darrell

San Bruno, CA

Tour: 09/29/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Just an overall great time. The group members were fun, fantastic people, Karin our tour guide was amazing. The group dinners were a highlight, great company and way too much good food!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Honestly the entire trip was filled with wow moments, but the "Wowest" of the wow had to be the Pantheon. We visited the Pantheon at twilight on our last night of the tour. What an end to a great experience."

Mary Ann

Aurora, CO

Tour: 09/29/13

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

As much as I enjoyed seeing new places and revisiting old ones (like Rome, Florence, Venice), I felt that 2 days wasn't enough time, especially for the larger cities above. That being said, each place was unique and was worth seeing. Unfortunately, the shoes I wore didn't work out very well (even though I broke them in several weeks before the tour). Getting a very bad cold kept me from participating in parts of the tour which made the experience less enjoyable than it could have been.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Being able to see the Dolomites from any angle and the gondola ride that took us over the countryside - spectacular!"

Ronald

Seattle, WA

Tour: 09/29/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Great hotels and food. Pantheon was wow."

Janet

Anacortes, WA

Tour: 09/29/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Wonderful. The trip was beyond expectations. We saw so many things, but also had enough free time to explore on our own and "get lost" in the cities. So much fun. Our guide Karin was outstanding. She was very informative, but also lots of fun. The group we were with were great. We all got along and actually made some friendships we hope will last beyond the trip. Hasan was the perfect driver. He was all business while driving, but took part in some things when not driving.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My wow moment was the demonstration of mask making. Amazing. Venice was the best and watching the process of mask making capped it off."

Patricia

Metairie, LA

Tour: 09/29/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

My husband and I enjoyed the tour tremendously. It was everything we had imagined and more.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"For me, coming into Venice in the water taxi and seeing this fabulous city for the first time. I had the biggest smile on my face."

Mary

Provincetown, MA

Tour: 09/29/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The whole trip was everything I expected and more. Tours plans, accommodations , guides, bus and places chosen to visit were all perfect. It was right amount of planned time and free time. A perfect trip!!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I had many wow moments for various reasons and find it difficult to choose one."

Jean

Newcastle, WA

Tour: 09/27/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour experience was wonderful from beginning to end. Most importantly, we had the very best guide in Donald White (see below) and a bus driver (Mauro) who not only drove safely, but was good-humored, friendly, and very helpful in loading and unloading our luggage. The tour was extremely well organized, with an itinerary designed to allow us to experience the very best of Italy. All hotels were comfortable, and it was great to have both organized group time as well as time to ourselves.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Although difficult to choose one "wow" moment from among so many, I was blown away by Michelangelo's David -- it's colossal size and utter perfection, as well as the intriguing question of whether he had already downed Goliath or was preparing to do so."

Kevin

Bonita, CA

Tour: 09/27/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our first trip to Europe and Italy specifically. The 'Best of Italy' tour was pretty much jaw dropping for us, getting to see first-hand places that we'd only seen or read about in books or movies. We visited so many cathedrals, temples, piazzas and saw so many frescoes, statues and paintings that our heads were about to explode! The food and wine of Italy was sumptuous and there was no shortage of it during the tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"This is a tough question, there were so many 'WOW' moments! The beauty of Lake Como and the quiet villages on her shores. St. Mark's Basilica & Square & the serenaded gondola ride in the canals of Venice. Michelangelo's David in Florence. The Colosseum, Forum, Pantheon, St. Peter's Basilica & the Vatican's museum in Rome. I can't choose just ONE!"

Teresa

Shoreview, MN

Tour: 09/27/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I had a fantastic time. Donald, our tour guide, was funny, knowledgeable, and helpful. In fact all the guides in the city were tremendous. This was our second Rick Steves tour and we weren't disappointed. Great food, memorable experiences, and great people.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My wow moments were several. Our guide in Florence opened my eyes to the beauty and historical value of many of the artistic paintings that we saw during our trip. In Venice, sitting in the grand piazza, listening to music on a beautiful evening and drinking some wonderful wine with two awesome people my husband and I met on the trip. Learning about the 17 districts in Sienna and being invited to a meal in one of the districts social halls. Amazing!!! The Colosseum and Forum in Rome."

Patricia

Bonita, CA

Tour: 09/27/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our tour was a trip of a life time. I loved getting a taste of so many different historic cities. Our Rick Steves tour guide, Donald, entertained us with interesting trivia, history and stories as he lead through each region. Donald always made sure we knew how to make the best use or our free time by providing directions and information for all the place we should see in each city. He also made dinner arrangements if needed on our free nights. The local guides were delightful as well.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Favorire place: Venice made me weep. I never thought I would get or take and a gondola ride along the Grand Canal. The Dolomites, theCinque Terrre region, Varrenna and Siena took my breath away. After some fun but hectic days we took advantage of some quite time at the winery agrituismo near Orevieto. Our room had a balcony over looking the vineyards. It was peaceful and majestic."

Carmen

La Crescenta, CA

Tour: 09/27/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was a great trip. We had a very nice group of people, a great tour guide, and a masterful driver! It was nice having the low-key days in Alpi di Siusi, Cinque Terre, and Orvieto interspersed with the information overload in Venice, Florence, and Rome. While, personally, my goal was to see every work of Michelangelo I could, I also appreciated seeing the Otzi man and the hill towns in Cinque Terre and Orvieto.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing the waters rise and flood the streets in Venice. Having dinner in a vaulted underground room that was left over from Roman times. Seeing traffic in Rome!"

Michael

Inverness, IL

Tour: 09/27/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was a great travel experience. Lodging, itinerary, our guide were all excellent.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Gondola ride in Venice"

Loren

Grand Junction, CO

Tour: 09/27/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I found that everyday brought a new and wonderful Italian experience. The beauty of Lake Como, the tranquility of the Dolomites, the uniqueness of Venice all contributed to a fabulous adventure. We saw the hustle and bustle of Florence and Rome which showed us a different side to Italy.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The experience of seeing David at the Accademia. It was a magical experience."

Cynthia

Colorado Springs, CO

Tour: 09/27/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I had an excellent experience for my 17 days in Italy! I now have a better appreciation for the country and will return to spend more time in selected cities. I learned a lot and will feel more comfortable travelling overseas on my own. Our guide and local guides were exceptionally knowledgeable and very forthcoming with information. If they did not have any information about a topic or question they stated the fact and did not try and make up some half baked answer; I appreciate that fact.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Dolomites Alps!! The culture, atmosphere, and people....WOW!"

William

La Crescenta, CA

Tour: 09/27/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Very special!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Finding quiet places away from the tourist crowds in many cities. Hiking in Alpi di Siusi was a very special. Final dinner in the Roman-era cellar was an exceptional experience."

Maryann

Grand Junction, CO

Tour: 09/27/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

i appreciated the variety of activities and places we visited on the tour. Our guide, Donald, was the best! Is there anything he doesn't know??? He was so very helpful to us in making wonderful suggestions for what to do in our free time. He gave us the info we needed to do the most in the time we had, and was the true complement to the travel book on Italy. The size of the group was perfect for traveling by bus.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It was in Venice. We were in the Piazza San Marco in late afternoon. As we walked toward the opening near the Doge's Palace, I saw the wonderous view of St Mark's Basin with San Giorgio in the background. It was the view that I've seen so many times in paintings and photos, but to see it first hand took my breath away. I felt the history of place, and experienced the magic that others must have experienced for centuries. No wonder Tintoretto, Bellini and Donatello were so inspired!"

Steven

Higgins Lake, MI

Tour: 09/22/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This tour was my first Rick Steves' tour, and based on my experiences it will not be my last. The tour was well organized with contingency plans for any emergency, our tour leader was terrific, the local guides were wonderful and very welcoming, and the hotels were very comfortable and centrally located. Our group, including our guide and bus driver grew to be a touring family. The bus was comfortable and not overcrowded and the suggested restaurants were local and very good.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My personal favorite experience during the tour was the wonderful way our Roman guide Francesca was able to bring the Roman Forum alive for the tour group. She was able to help this 21st century group feel what it must have been like to live during the Pax Romana. Her ability to teach with passion and a deep understanding of the classical past was very enriching even for a old history teacher like myself."

Patricia

Bellingham, WA

Tour: 09/22/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was a wonderful, fast pace, educational, exciting and delicious experience. Our guide was great and so knowledgeable. We all followed the "no grump' agreement well. I learned so much and loved every minute of those 17 days on this tour. Everything ran so smoothly and all the organizing was done for us. Amazing!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favorite wow was: in Cinque Terra while hiking from Monterosso south, when I first saw the village of Vernazza. I have so LOVED the photographs I've seen of this place in the past and just couldn't believe I was really seeing it."

Fred

Lexington, VA

Tour: 09/22/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

My overall tour experience was excellent, combining one of the world's best touring areas with a very well-designed tour that showed off the impressive variety of Italy, and greatly enhanced by the tremendous leadership of our tour leader, Rainer . The allocation of group and individual time was just right. Rainer's deft touch in dealing with a variety of people and imparting meaningful information , insights and perspectives added a great deal to the tour experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"3 favorite "wow" moments: 1. Arriving at our beautiful hotel in Varenna in perfect weather and opening the window shutters to look out over an Italian wedding dinner at the spectacular Lake Como vista. 2. Our sumptuous nighttime gondola ride through the narrow side canals and then into the grand canal of Venice, accompanied by wonderful rousing opera songs from a singer in one of our group's gondolas. 3. Walking in the midst of Rome's ancient ruins and feeling the depth of time and life there"

Susan

Lexington, VA

Tour: 09/22/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

As with our previous Rick Steves tour, the one thing that made this tour great was the quality of our tour leader and the local guides: we feel the quality of the education we receive about the places we are visiting, the history, the culture, the economics, and the "behind-the-scenes" information that we'd never find out on our own are what makes these tours so memorable. Also, the number and diversity of places we visited on this particular tour was amazing.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing world-famous sites for the first time: Venice, the Roman Coliseum, Forum, Pantheon -- and knowing all about what we were seeing, thanks to our guides."

Rosemary

Clermont, FL

Tour: 09/22/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was amazing!!! It meet and surpassed all of my expectations. Hotels and hotel rooms were very comfortable, clean, and most had wonderful views from the windows. Meals were fantastic, as was the service. So nice to have WiFi in all the hotels, plus amazingly on the tour bus!!! Our tour guide, Rainer , was a joy. Beside being so very knowledgeable, his personality and sense of humor was refreshing!! Our tour bus driver, Adrian, was an outstanding driver and a sweet young man.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I loved Venice!!! Being the second oldest married couple on the tour, we were honored on the Gondola ride with a singing and accordion playing gondoliers ... a wonderful and unexpected treat!!!! Varenna, the Dolomites, and Cinque Terre were among the highlights of the trip ... so very beautiful. The Cathedrals were breathtaking!!! As you can see, I loved it all, and it's hard to pick just one 'wow' moment!!!"

Barry

Clermont, FL

Tour: 09/22/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Not only did the tour live up to expectations, but in so many unusual ways surpassed them. Never did we expect that the group would come together in such a harmonious way. After the third day there was such a strong feeling of brotherhood; it was as if we had all known each other for years. The Rick Steve's philosophy, as well as Rainer's expert leadership and knowledge, placed the tour experience in a much more gratifying and fulfilling travel odyssey.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were Four. The charm of Varenna. The natural beauty of the Dolomites. Attending Mass at The Basilica of Santa Maria Degli Angeli in Assisi. The 1000 & 1 ways in which Italians conduct there daily lives that are different from Americans."

John

Choctaw, OK

Tour: 09/22/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our overall tour experience was terrific. We thoroughly enjoyed all 17 days. In fact we enjoyed it all so much that we have all ready signed up for another tour next season.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Every day had it's "wow" moments! One "wow" moment was during the gondola ride in Venice, our guide arranged it as an optional event. Our group rented five gondola's complete with musicians. During the ride, all five gondolas lined up perfectly, side by side, and cruised down the Grand Canal while the musicians played. Even the locals stopped to enjoy the moment. Other wow moments were the Ice Man Museum and the scenic hikes in the Dolomites and Cinque-Terre."

Marcia

Toronto, ON

Tour: 09/20/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Well THE Best of Italy was was really made best by our fabulous knowledgeable tour guide Robin Dority. Robin went over and above advising and arranging for us to have the best travel experience possible. She even arranged at the start of the trip for an activity in Rome for us for when the tour was over. My husband and I had signed on with a Rick Steves tour because we knew it would be a smaller group.We were so fortunate to have a group of 25 fun loving and keen people.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Varenna! Varenna ! Varenna! We arrived a few days early as was suggested so we really got to fall in love with the beauty of this village and Lake Como. We enjoyed the small towns and villages."

Brian

Shingle Springs, CA

Tour: 09/20/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our third Rick Steves tour all of which have been terrific. We did indeed experience the best of Italy in 17 days, which is quite remarkable.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The gondola ride in Venice with the musicians right in our boat."

Catherine

Shingle Springs, CA

Tour: 09/20/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our tour went very smoothly, was well planned and unexpected difficulties were dealt with easily. We saw an amazing amount of beautiful scenery, historical locations and amazing works of art. We had a great group of interesting people who all got along well. Our guide was extremely capable, calm and friendly. We enjoyed informative talks on the bus while traveling between cities. She worked hard to give us access to memorable experiences, and always remained calm and positive.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Our evening gondola ride in Venice with a wonderful singer and an accordion player."

Jean

Seattle, WA

Tour: 09/20/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was a great tour - strenuous, but worth every minute. Lake Como was a good place to start the tour and get over jet lag. Saw more of Venice that on my last tour 15 years ago; it remains my favorite Italian city. Sienna was surprisingly manageable and interesting. Orvieto was like walking into a painting! Thanks so much.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Loved the hike in the Dolomites, the cow bells clanging away, the silence of the ski lift."

Richard

Edmonds, WA

Tour: 09/20/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Basically RS Best of Italy Tour delivered everything we expected. Great group of people. Tour always on time. Having the experience of Robin was a benefit

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The group Gondola ride in Venice, staying in the Dolomites and the hospitality at the Pasquela? Hotel in Monterossa(The best Lasagna and Pest ever)"

Sharon

Ripon, CA

Tour: 09/20/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Having a tour guide like Robin with credentials, knowledge, and a love for Italy that seemed to drive her to want to make everyone's experience exactly what they wanted and more is without reservation the number one reason this was our best sightseeing vacation ever and more. Every day we ended by saying we didn't know how it could be, but it was better than the day before. It was fast paced enough to learn and see Italy but enough down time for enjoying as we went.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favorite wow moment was the tour of the Rhino neighborhood church, museum, and social club in Siena. It was unbelievable that these people opened their neighborhood to us, sharing their food, wine, and love of the Palio race experiences, dating back to the mid 1800's. I truly felt I had visited the people of Siena and got glimpse into their lives."

Jeffrey

Woodbridge, VA

Tour: 09/20/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour completely lived up to our expectations. We have traveled about in Europe when I was serving in the Army. I was surprised at how much I learned about the history of some of the places I had previously toured and the places I had missed because I was not aware of them. The accommodations were great! We were pampered to be sure. I can't begin to tell you how pleased we were with Robin. In the couple of instances that popped up because of an unforeseen glitch she she was amazing.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It tour was a consistent "wow" from the beginning to the end as far as I am concerned."

Dana

Ripon, CA

Tour: 09/20/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was an excellent combination of group and independence in the tour. Robin was a first rate problem solver when one occurred when we had a rain storm in Rome.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The whole Siena experience. The meal and the presentation at the contrada dinner made me intimate with the Italian culture."

Karen

Atkinson, NH

Tour: 09/20/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This trip far surpassed all my expectations!! The whole experience felt like a long-awaited dream come true. What a thrill it was to actually see things I had only read about or seen in pictures. Our tour mates were very congenial and friendly. We had so much fun together. Our guide, Robin, was so wonderful. She made the trip perfect, and brought such a feeling of joy to the experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were so many highlights that it is hard to choose. The night time gondola ride was phenomenal. Robin hired an accordianist and a superb tenor who sang and played through the whole ride. It was a night to remember forever.The whole Venice experience was great!"

Kristine

Cadillac, MI

Tour: 09/20/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was more than expected!! The itinerary was wonderful but your organization and attention to detail made each stop much more enhanced! My husband and myself love every minutes of the entire trip. There was never a moment that wasn't well done. The luxury bus was so comfortable and offered much needed rest along our travels as well as a "venue" for education by our tour guide. I can't imagine seeing and experiencing as much if we had planned our own trip.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"That is a very hard question. There were so many for both my husband and I. We felt close to heaven at the many stops.. Standing out might be the natural beautiful of the alpine meadow in Alpe Di Suisi. But to see the many inspired works of art by the masters -- paintings, frescoes, sculptures made us feel that there has to be a God that would provide the vision for these works. So sorry we can be more specific. Love the pesto making dinner in Montorosso!"

Barbara

Redmond, WA

Tour: 09/20/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour was fabulous. I loved the start at Lake Como which allowed us to 'adjust' in a small and easily navigable town. I liked the combination of the large cities being followed by smaller towns, so 'exhaustion' factor was well paced! Whereas our weather was excellent for the most part, our guide acted quickly to counteract the bad weather by employing cabs when necessary. Thanks to Jackamo for being such and excellent driver!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Two Favorites: The Dolomites with our fabulous view and the crystal clear sky. The Cinque Terra with our great view over looking the Monterossa waterfront. (Who knew we would have such great views from our rooms????)"

Guy

West Richland, WA

Tour: 09/15/13

Overall rating: rating 1 of 5

We were surprised by the amount of physical labor involved in moving, carrying, and dragging our luggage around these cities. Most places were tolerable, but Venice was absolutely the worst experience we had on this trip! The Italian people, in general, need some lessons in manners. We spent a total of 7 weeks in Europe (Germany, Italy, France, and Spain) and found all the locals to be friendly and helpful, except Italians (other than the Dolomites and Lake Como).

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The highlight of the trip was visiting the Dolomites. We could have stayed there and been very happy. A beautiful area and the people were very friendly."

Buck

Seattle, WA

Tour: 09/15/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Too Many to try to identify one "wow""

Sheila

Scottsdale, AZ

Tour: 09/15/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Reid was a fantastic guide[INVALID]supportive but clear about developing our sense of independence, extremely knowledgeable, great follow thru, a true leader but not a coddler. I think he was superior. Itinerary was great, hotels great location and clean but some were pretty average (others better), local guides terrific, can''t be more positive about the experience and would recommend it to everyone. I was amazed at the camaraderie and fun of the group[INVALID]fabulous people w/o exception. Good humor.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Dolomites were amazing, the hike fabulous, the guide wonderful...also an instant sense of cohesiveness of the group."

Verne

Shelton, WA

Tour: 09/15/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Way beyond anything we had hoped for. We had heard good things about Rick Steves' tours but the raves did not do justice to our actual experience. I loved that we moved from hectic urban environments to rural, quieter ones to have a chance to recover while enjoying a different aspect of our total Italian experience. I liked that Reid was clear in his directions, explanations and expectations. There was no wasted time. Everyone took responsibility for themselves and helped others as needed.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I don't recall now if it was a specific moment or a growing understanding but the "wow" was the insight that even more than the "seeing" and the "doing" the trip was about "being" in a different place, a different culture, outside my comfort zone."

Carole

Shelton, WA

Tour: 09/15/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Amazing! Beyond our expectations. Reid was terrific and shared so much wonderful history. We loved the mix of countryside and cities. Such a nice balance. Hiking in the Dolomites was spectacular and a favorite. And we aren't even regular hikers. We loved the connection with local communities a meeting the people who make Italy such a rich place to visit.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Hiking in the Dolomites and later staying in Orvieto overlooking the beautiful vineyards. Thy other favorite was every person in our group. We laughed ourselves silly the second night at Buddy introductions. I knew we were going to have a great time because this group was so funny."

Mary

Vashon, WA

Tour: 09/15/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I thought the whole tour was amazing. Having our first day be a "free" day was a little weird, and delayed the process of getting to know the other tour members, but we soon made up for that and formed really strong bonds with each other before long. The Italian Alps were the big surprise, astonishing scenery, and our hiking guide Kathy regaled us with folk tales that explained various geological features she pointed out. Venice, the place I had most looked forward to, did not disappoint.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"We were treated to a demonstration of maskmaking in Venice. Our guide Elizabeta introduced her friend, the slender, engaging artist. He proceeded to create a mask by pressing damp wool/cotton paper into a mold while energetically explaining the process in rapid Italian. Elizabeta shadowed him, simultaneously translating his words into English for us. It was the most incredible duet I have ever seen, and I replay it in my mind and still laugh."

Irene

Macungie, PA

Tour: 09/13/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This is the first time we have been on a tour and we loved it. We were able to have the best of both worlds....experiencing what we wanted to, with flexibility to do our own thing. We had a wonderful group with a phenominal guide and driver. We now have many new friends and memories of a lifetime.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Its difficult to pick one. I loved being in the Dolomites, Orvieto and Siena. These places were more laid back and I loved the culture there. However, I was also pleasantly surprised when we visited the ruins in Rome. Our guide really helped us to understand the history. It was very powerful ...standing right where so much of the Roman Empire once stood. Wow!"

Rosemarie

Eagleville, PA

Tour: 09/13/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We can't think of anything negative about the tour - it was well run, covered the major highlights, included good local tours and enough background information and suggestions on how to spend your free time. I would do another Rick Steves tour without blinking an eye. It was a fabulous adventure and the cities and towns we visited were extraordinary, and the way it was organized was perfect. We had a wonderful experience and loved Italy.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There are too many to mention, but I was wowed when I first saw the Duomo in Florence and when I came up out of the subway in Rome and saw the Colosseum and the other ruins up on the hill."

Barbara

Salem, OR

Tour: 09/13/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This tour and Italy itself far exceeded any expectations I had. It was truly the trip of a lifetime!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"We had a couple of optional dinners when all or nearly all the group participated [INVALID] those seemed to be instrumental in helping the individuals become part of a group. The seafood extravaganza in Cinque Terre was especailly memorable."

Dottie

Chicago, IL

Tour: 09/13/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The pace, the choice of stops, the planned meals, and most of all the people in our group were exceptional!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were so many! Having taken courses in Interpretive Studies, I was very impressed with the Iceman Museum in Bolzano. It was so unexpected in such an out-of-the-way nontourist stop. An amazing job!"

Elizabeth

Indianapolis, IN

Tour: 09/13/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The albergos, hotels, agriturismos were all excellent! The bus was great and the driver -Hassan - was an important part of all of our fun. Our group bonded over the fabulous food/wine experiences. Ferdi was generous with his free time and frequently joined us for our evening excursions. Our local guides gave us the in-depth background and history. It was all so memorable.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Hard to pick - was it the Cinque Terre? the "David"?, the canals of Venice?, the food?, the weather? I think I have to pick Rome...the ancient sites and the Pantheon."

Philip

Indianapolis, IN

Tour: 09/13/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour guides were great, including our primary guide (Ferdi) and all of the venue/city guides. I liked the pace. We got to see the main sites through tour arrangements, but we were given ample time to explore on our own. Our tour companions were fun to be with. The bus driver (Hassan) was great and added to the experience. And, I don't know how you did it, but you managed to arrange for perfect weather the entire time.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"We saw so much great art during the tour, and the tour closed in Rome. During the tour, I was wondering how much better the Sistine Chapel could be. I was still wowed by the Chapel. Michelangelo has to have been at the top of the great art geniuses of human history."

Constance

Oconomowoc, WI

Tour: 09/13/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Difficult to express in so few words but[INVALID]-FUN, Knowledge filled (thanks to our terrific guide, Ferdi), active, awesome scenery, beautiful art, historic architect and cities[INVALID]all shared with the wonderful group of people on our tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"WOW--Michelangelo's "David"; Sea Food Meal in the Cinque Terre; Venice"

Kenneth

Oconomowoc, WI

Tour: 09/13/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I thought Ferdi went the extra mile providing some excellent recommendations where to eat and what to do on our free time at a reasonable price. That was most important to me.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Wow was the statue of David in Florence. Wow was the group seafood dinner in Monterosso. Wow was the group gondola ride arranged by Ferdi in Venice. Wow was Venice in general. Wow was local city guide in Florence...she was super. Wow was the local house wine at the local restaurant Ferdi recommended in Florence...located near the Doumo. In fact we dined with Ferdi that evening. Wow was galato everyday. Wow was the weather!"

Jerry

Chicago, IL

Tour: 09/13/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It occurred to us that those on a RS tour are self-[INVALID]ing ... in a good sense. That is, the style and focus of RS tours attacks those of similar interests. In this case, after having gone on tours for 35 years, this was the most cohesive group we've experienced. By staying in smaller, locally owned hotels, by having time to walk leisurely through neighborhoods, by being told of good local restaurants, we felt that this tour helped us experience Italy rather than just looking at Italy.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were many (standing quietly in the presence of genius at the Michelangelo's David, learning about the horse races in Siena, the Florence WWII cemetery, attending mass with Pope Francis in St. Peter's Square). But, while people joke about the ABC tour (Another Bloody Church), for me each cathedral and small town church was special. I never tired of wandering through each one, discovering the passion and art of the centuries."

Audrey

Keizer, OR

Tour: 09/13/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my fifth RS tour and quite different from the rest because I caught a cold and missed several activities and meals. However, it was a fantastic tour group - one of the best ever- with a great guide and driver. I just consider it a different type of travel experience - hopefully not repeated ever again. Italy is so very different from the rest of Europe and one needs to experience it. The Italians are wonderful, friendly and helpful with the best food and wine ever.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There was a wow moment in every place we visited beginning in in Milan with our pre-tour days and ending in Pompeii in our post-tour days. Seeing things you have read or heard about since childhood and having it right before your eyes takes your breath away. There were so many AWEsome moments from seeing The Last Supper, the Iceman, David in all his glory, Cinque Terre, the Vatican, to the streets of Pompeii and Mt. Vesuvius. History came alive."

Karen

Woodinville, WA

Tour: 09/11/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Although living in the Seattle area, visiting Rick Steve's Edmond for tour advice, and using the books to plan our travel, this was the first Rick Steve's tour we had taken. It far exceeded our expectations! We think most of the credit goes to our fabulous tour guide Mary. She worked 24/7 to assure that everyone on the tour had a great experience, including the information we all needed to get as much out of each day as possible. The mixture of planned events and free time was perfect!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"This was our first trip to Italy so it has to all be described as "wow". The 17 day tour gives you the opportunity to start north and move down the country and experience the changes in culture, food, wine, language, art, etc. That was what we enjoyed the most, learning about the "bigger picture" and not just focusing on one area. It would be great if this tour continued south of Rome, as we understand it used to."

Phyllis

Cheyenne, WY

Tour: 09/11/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We loved everything about this tour. Signing up for the tour was painless. All the pre-tour information was invaluable and left us very prepared. Our tour guide, Mary, was wonderful. She was so knowledgeable and helpful. We loved all the other tour participants. It was well planned with new and different experiences at each stop. The group dinners and hotels were delightful. We are enjoying our memories! We received the 2014 Rick Steves' Tour catalogue and are planning our next tour!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Each stop gave us a new "Wow!""

Rebecca

Westerville, OH

Tour: 09/11/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This trip was everything is was advertised to be AND MORE. The organization of the tour which started in Varenna and ended in Rome was perfect! The number of people in our tour was very manageable and comfortable on the bus. We had the perfect amount of planned time and free time. The group meals were always special and extremely enjoyable.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I had at least 3 favorite "wow" moments: First glimpse of Varenna, driving to and hiking in the Dolomites, and Cinque Terre."

Thomas

Westerville, OH

Tour: 09/11/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our first international trip since we were married 38 yrs ago. The trip couldn't have been any better. I was really impressed with the weather arrangements so we would have perfect weather 19 days in a row. I still don't know how that was arranged? All jokes aside, the weather was perfect. The number of people on the tour was great for the size bus and the people themselves couldn't have been better. I liked the arranged meals mixed with the free time for meals; a great balance.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Several "Wow" moments, but the two highest "Wow" moments were the visit to the Vatican and the Dolomites, followed closely by Varenna (Lake Como area)."

Paul

Collingwood, ON

Tour: 09/11/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

My wife and I enjoyed every minute of the tour!!!

Francis

Cheyenne, WY

Tour: 09/11/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It exceeded all our expectations. Mary, our full time guide, was fantastic and the local guides in the various communities really helped us understand the culture and the people during the early years. This tour helped us to understand the history of Italy, experience how buildings were constructed, the economics of the early years, museums, art, food, time on our own to walk and explore. Our tour group really bonded and that helped make everything so enjoyable also.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Each area that we visited had a "wow" moment! I would stand in wonder in some of the areas and try to visualize what was going on during the Roman empire days, the various regimes that controlled the area, the fighting during World War II, the craftsmanship to build those structures, the marble statutes, the fantastic food in each community, the wonderful local people to name just a few things."

Kathleen

Santa Ana, CA

Tour: 09/11/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I had a wonderful time on the trip. It had a good mix of city and country which gave us a breather from the crowds in the cities. Our guide, Mary , was fantastic and our tourmates were some of the most enjoyable we've had yet on a Rick Steves ( or any) tour. The group dinners were very good and the included wine with some of them was appreciated. By the time the tour ended we'd seen a good cross section of the country and had a better understanding of the different regions and cultures.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Although there were several highlights the one which stands out was probably the hike in the Dolomites with our guide Kat. It was a gorgeous day with stunning scenery and our whole group went which made it special. Another highlight was our unscheduled stop at the American Cemetery outside Florence. The guide allowed us to help in lowering the flag --a touching moment for all of us. The nighttime gondola ride arranged for all of us by Mary was yet another highlight."

David

Highlands Ranch, CO

Tour: 09/08/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was more than I expected.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Each day was was a wow experience for me."

Maria

Mission Viejo, CA

Tour: 09/08/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We were a little hesitant to take a guided group tour. The itinerary and limited group size sold me on the trip. This experience was the best! An active, friendly group of travelers; a guide with a wealth of experience, patience, and sense of humor; a driver who handled the roads so well that the bus time was actually relaxing and a good time to wind down. Most importantly, there was enough free time to explore some extra sights that we wanted to include in our adventure.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favorite "take-away" from the organized activities was the guided tour of the Uffizi in Florence. I gained a deeper understanding of the progression of art through the medieval, renaissance and baroque periods that helped me to put each work of art into perspective for the remaining days of the tour. On the other hand, I have to admit, the view from our bedroom in Monterosso of the beach, Cinque Terre cliffs and Mediterranean was pretty spectacular too!"

Stuart

San Clemente, CA

Tour: 09/08/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The mixture of history, geographical beauty, social interactions with local citizens, knowledge of Italy by our guide and local guides surpassed expectations. What a wonderful country to visit and enjoy with fellow companions on the tour, a suburb driver, and Donald, whose historical knowledge is unbelievable. We had a ball! The diversity of experiences on this trip were a big plus and the camaraderie of our tour group made the vacation even better.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were so many it really is hard to pinpoint a favorite. Lake Como and the the Dolomites for physical beauty were amazing. Rick is right, the Cinque Terra villages are a delight in every way. The historic wows for me as a retired Social Science teacher were phenomenal."

Angela

Lysander, NY

Tour: 09/08/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The 17 Days Tour was a fantastic introduction for me to Italy. The variety that this tour offers, from mountains and lakes to big cities, is a great overview of northern Italy. Though the pace was sometimes overwhelming, I wouldn't have pushed myself to see so much without it. It was also great NOT to have to plan everything. To have the large museums and sights already scheduled, walk right in, was worth it.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I can't pick one. The WOW was being there amid the history, people and architecture."

Nancy

Folsom, CA

Tour: 09/08/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was the first Rick Steve's tour for my husband and myself. My husband has traveled very little, and I wanted this trip to be a "dream come true" for him. He had always wanted to go to Florence and Rome. Well, this trip far exceeded expectations for the both of us. We enjoyed the diversity, the geography of the different areas we traveled. We enjoyed the Italian people, the food, the walking, the sites, the education and most of all our travel group. We had an amazing time.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Going to Assisi and learning about St. Francis. I will never forget seeing the statue of him with the live doves in his hands. The experience of that day has affected me spiritually."

Michael

North Bend, WA

Tour: 09/08/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

From first to last, our accommodations and provided meals were very good. The miles and sites exceeded my normal pace (bad lower back and out of shape), but I got used to the tempo quickly. Our RS guide exhibited a significant depth of art, cultural, and historical knowledge; local guides were terrific overall, as well. The selection of sites to visit gave us a wonderful sense of how great Italy was and will be to visit--again and again!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Visually overwhelming at times (a bit of Stendhal syndrome, maybe), no single moment stands out as a "wow" moment. As a professional studio artist and teacher, I went prepared to capture as many images as possible for later reference. Including 4 days in Bavaria prior to the tour and 3 days after in Paris, I shot >9k pictures + 100 video clips. Going through the images now takes my breath away--what an exciting time we had! I have years of subjects to draw upon."

Pamela

St George, UT

Tour: 09/08/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I loved everything about the tour. Our group was congenial and our tour guide was informative, friendly and patient. The areas in Italy we visited were perfect for me. It was my first trip to Italy, so a tour was great for transportation, hotels, admissions, local guides and fast group access to museums etc. I did find traveling in September is probably the busiest month and it may prove better to go another month to avoid such large crowds.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"my "wow" moments were the hiking in the Dolomites, Cinque Terre and biking in Lucca. Although I loved the history of the large cities, my favorite places were more quiet and scenic."

Paul

St George, UT

Tour: 09/08/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

As with every group tour or airline I have been on, not enough leg room for someone 6'- 3" traveling for hours at a time. Hard to find down time between long tour days and having to do laundry frequently. So I missed some sites or hikes just to rest up.

Jack

Sequim, WA

Tour: 09/08/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Tour Guide (Donald ), hotel location, bus driver, tour group, number in group and tour bus were all excellent. A very nice tour made much nicer because of the all the above.

John

Port Angeles, WA

Tour: 09/08/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Navigating the Milan train station was not so easy. The hike to the next town at Lake Como not good as no trail markers halfway. Crowds were daunting to say the least. The driver, the guide, the accommodations, the food were terrific as well as the transport. What the tour controlled was very good for me.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Everything was a wow. There is just too much to comprehend by this old fart."

Kathy

Highlands Ranch, CO

Tour: 09/08/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This trip was to celebrate our 50th wedding anniversary. We had a wonderful guide Donald White and the chemistry of the group was great! The places that were on the tour were both beautiful and very educational. From the ancient history to the art history there were days our heads were spinning. Thee was plenty of free time to explore on our own and the food was fabulous. We will remember this tour and our group and the friendships that were made.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"It's really hard to pick one "wow" moment as the whole trip was a "wow" moment. From Venice and the canals to Florence and Michelangelo's David to the Dolomites. Each location had a "wow" moment. One of the best times we had was the dinner the last night we were together in a bistro in the caverns in Rome. We even had a musician who got us all to sing!"

Mari

Portland, OR

Tour: 09/08/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our second Rick Steves tour, so we came expecting all of the TLC that we got. In my opinion, everything that Rick Steves or our guide, Donald, had any control over, was handled superbly. The hotels and their locations, the transportation, the choice of restaurants, local guides, the recommendations for time on our own were all excellent. My only disappointment had to do with the crowds of tourists in the Cinque Terra.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Eating dinner in an Etruscan tomb in Siena. Our guide, Donald, pointed it out on our orientation tour and we made reservations for the next night. It was a fine dinning experience (linens, candles, crystal, china), the food was excellent, the waiter very friendly and the atmosphere something not available at home!"

J Delvin

Bellevue, WA

Tour: 09/06/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This tour was just excellent. Each area visited was very nice, was different from the others and well chosen. We are pleased to have included this in our travels. We were well treated, the weather was great and hardly no complaints (See hotels later). We will highly recommend it to friends and family.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"We particularly liked the "Dolomite" portion of the trip. Beautiful scenery, etc. Also liked the "Ice Man" exhibit. Had just an OUTSTANDING ride in the Gondolas at Venecia."

Cheryl

Arlington, WA

Tour: 09/06/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I originally went on this tour with some reservations. I have never really been on a tour of any extended length and wasn't too sure that I was a tour person at all. It didn't take long to quell those concerns and I ended up having one of the best vacations of my life. Our guide was fantastic, the tour was very well planned, we had ample free time and the people on our tour were very fun. Overall, it was a fantastic experience and I would do it again in a heartbeat!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were so many "wow" moments on this tour that I cannot choose one. Many people have asked me, since I returned, what part of the trip was my favorite? I always tell them that it is impossible to choose one thing. The entire trip was a "wow" and although there were some things that I enjoyed more than others, the whole trip was great!"

Karen

Woodland, CA

Tour: 09/06/13

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

Tour was well organized with good ratio of group and independent time. Rainer was knowledgeable and well-organized. He did a good job of preparing us for each prospective stop and sights to be seen. We like that we stayed in centrally located hotels and received good recommendations for restaurants when we were on our own. Wish we could have stayed an additional night in the Cinque Terre and had extra sightseeing time in Orvieto. But those wishes will motivate us to return.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing David in Florence and hiking in the Dolomites were phenomenal experiences!"

Connie

Arnold, CA

Tour: 09/06/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I loved everything about the trip, except that it felt as though we had too little time in my favorite places - the Dolomites, Venice, and the agritourism hotel outside of Orvieto. Our guide, Rainer was always calm and in control, he was fun, had a great sense of humor and was very knowledgeable. He and our bus driver, Silvestrio, made us feel well taken care of. I loved that we walked so much. I enjoyed the group dinners and the city tours and the local demonstrations.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were so many!!!! But my "I'm really in Italy"moment was looking at Venice from the Vaporetta."

Douglas

Woodland, CA

Tour: 09/06/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The selection of the cities visited was perfect, and the tour was well planned and executed. The tour guide enhanced the tour with helpful information and background of the sites visited. The bus driver, Silvario, was also friendly, helpful, and accomodating.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favorite "wow" moment was the stay at Orvieto winery, with great accomodations, location, and food."

Russell

Black Butte Ranch, OR

Tour: 09/06/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

My experience in seeing Rome to Lake Como was outstanding. While growing up you studied or read about the history of Italy but until you see it in person you really can't appreciate what you learned. Beside the history, buildings, art, and unusual things associated with Italy, being able to use the local transportation system from boats, buses, and trains and dealing directly with the Italian people and businesses was very rewarding and educating.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"One of my life wishes in my bucket list was to climb to the top of the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Doing it with my wife and celebrating our 46th wedding anniversary at the top was a "wow" moment I will remember forever."

Christopher

Olympia, WA

Tour: 09/06/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I am writing a letter to summarize both Best of Italy and South Italy that will be more complete and hopefully useful than a 500 character limit imposed by this page.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Walking into the numerous churches where the physical scale and art blew me away over and over again. And the great groups of tour members."

Joseph

Vacaville, CA

Tour: 09/06/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was a great tour. It was truly the "best" of Italy. We saw so many different facets of the country from the Dolomites to the Cinque Terre. As with every Rick Steve's tour that we have taken, we did so many things that other tours do not do. We had a really memorable time.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were a number of "wow" moments. The Dolomites were just beautiful and the Cinque Terre was wonderful. Being able to dine at the contrada in Siena was something that Was really special."

Linda

Bellevue, WA

Tour: 09/06/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was the perfect Italy tour. The location choices were excellent from small villages to the beautiful mountains and Riviera and then to the must see large cities. Our tour guide could not have not been more helpful, knowledgeable or personable. The bus and the driver were fantastic. I enjoyed the tour and would recommend it to anyone.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"They were all "wow" moments to me."

Marilyn

Corvallis, OR

Tour: 09/04/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Having arrived with a cold, my first week was very difficult. Very little time to rest. Bad way to start our tour. Due to Donato, our tour guide, what could have been a disaster actually turned into a very positive experience.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were many "wow" moments but my favorite was seeing the Colosseum for the first time."

Michael

Lacey, WA

Tour: 09/04/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Could not have asked more of the trip. Transportation, accommodations, guides, and selection of attractions and locations was outstanding. It did not hurt the weather was perfect also.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing in person so many places and pieces of art that I have read about for so many years was very emotional for me at times."

Erika

Seattle, WA

Tour: 09/04/13

Overall rating: rating 3 of 5

It was a well organized and balanced tour!!!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Most of the tour was wow. It would be really hard to just pick one place."

Gena

Edgewood, WA

Tour: 09/04/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was a great trip. Our guides were awesome. The hotels were very nice and the ammenities were better than we expected. We would highly recommend this tour to others.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"so many that hard to say. We especially loved the areas were we could enjoy the outdoors and get in a good walk or hike."

David

Temple, TX

Tour: 09/01/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was a great experience. Enjoyed every aspect of the tour.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The beautiful scenery at the agri-turismo in Orvieto. The iconic landscape with vineyards, olive groves and cypress trees was special."

Judy

Poolesville, MD

Tour: 09/01/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was our first tour experience. Previously we traveled on our own and were somewhat apprehensive about traveling with a group. What an extraordinary time we had on this tour. When describing our experience, it's impossible to separate our guide, our tour members and Italy itself. All three came together to create an incredible trip. We learned so much about all the places we visited, had time to explore on our own and thoroughly enjoyed the companionship/camaraderie of new-found friends

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Impossible to pick one. From opening our hotel window at the Villa Cipressi in Varenna and looking out at Lake Como to seeing the Sistine Chapel, it was one wow moment after another. If I had to choose one moment, it would be the gondola ride in Venice. Our entire group went and Sarah (guide) had a guitarist and singer join us. Magical!"

Sharon

Duvall, WA

Tour: 09/01/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Everything about this tour met and exceded our hopes and expectations, which were absurdly high. We had been planning and saving for this trip for ten years, so the bar was set very high. Weather, group composition, guide, sites, pacing, food - everything went so smoothly that our only disappointment was that we had no horror stories to share upon our return.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"So many from which to choose. I think that looking out over Tuscany towards San Gimignano, while eating an organic lunch and sampling wine from a three-generation farm, was the moment I felt most profoundly "this is Italy." It brought tears from my soul."

Dick

Brights Grove, ON

Tour: 09/01/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Fantastic. The tour was ``as advertised`` with no surprises. The group was congenial and fun to be with. The tour was educational and we frequently got to experience Italy on our own. I enjoyed all the walking as it helped us see and experience more than we would otherwise have done. Italy is about history, art and food. We did it all!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I have always wanted to see the Coliseum in Rome. This fantastic structure and all its history is awe inspiring. I still periodically remember the first sight of the coliseum and the feeling I had when I went inside."

Michael

Astoria, NY

Tour: 09/01/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour is so well planned! Our guide, was incredibly knowledgable and was ready, willing and able to answer any and all questions. You see all the great sights without feeling like you are on a museum spree. My favorite part about the tour was the cultural emersion, through our dinners and our town walks we got to know the culture not just the history. Lot of free time with wonderful suggestions from our guide.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Rome... all of Rome!"

Janet

Temple, TX

Tour: 09/01/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This tour exceeded my expectations. We enjoyed being with all the other tour members and with our guide. It was set up well, so that we had some down time to get ready for and / or recuperate from long walking days.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I was thrilled to see the works of Michaelangelo (David, Pieta and the Sistine chapel.) I was also "wowed" by the incredible cathedrals, Colosseum, and Pantheon, but I would have to say that my best memory was the golden rays of the setting sun as it shone on the beautiful rolling hills of the Tuscany and Umbria regions. It was the classic "snapshot" of Italy with the vineyards, tile-roofed buildings and cypress trees. That's the "picture" I'll keep in my head of this trip."

John

Walker, MI

Tour: 09/01/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

It was our first trip to Italy and we wanted to do it right. Rick Steves' tours met that expectation. Our tour group leader was personable and extremely knowledgeable. While the tour was a "whirlwind" we felt that each stop was a fulfilling, though brief, experience of the place. I felt that our group was just about the right size, the group's chemistry was good, and we were enthusiastic and flexible.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favorite "Wow Moment" was an unscheduled vist to a vineyard for a tour, wine tasting and a fantastic lunch. It was an unexpected "off piste" experience and I enjoyed every minute of it. A close second would be the presence of an operatic-quality vocalist on our evening gondola ride through the canals of Venice."

Peggy

St George, UT

Tour: 09/01/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The accommodations were suburb, our guide was beyond wonderful, and the group was so much fun to be with! I learned more about Italian history and customs than I had ever dreamed; it made everything we saw so much more meaningful. We weren't just seeing things, but we were understanding the things we saw. This was my first time to Europe, and I am looking forward to future visits. But, I am afraid I am spoiled with this tour experience; it will certainly be my benchmark.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The first view of the Dolomites and of the Mediterranean were so very unexpected and breath-taking. But our tour of the Colosseum and Forum still sticks out in my mind. The local guide brought Roman history to life. I had had Latin in H S, but never had the Romans seemed so real. This is aside from the fact that the structures were over 2,000 years old. All the other places and things we saw were more "wow, I am really here seeing places and things I have read about and seem pictures of""

Mary Beth

Northville, MI

Tour: 09/01/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was my first experience with a tour group and being in Europe. I felt like there was a good balance between group time and free time. I loved the "buddy check" and I had a great buddy. i had my son with me which was very special - most of the group was couples. Everyone was great about being on time and they really did feel like family by the end of the trip. We all looked out for each other.We had the best time - our guide was amazing. I would definitely do this kind of trip again.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"My favorite wow moment....hard to pick just one. Most of the views were a "wow"... seeing all the amazing art was a "wow" being able to bypass some of the lines was a "wow" the FOOD was a huge "wow" at one of our hotels we saw the chef out in the garden picking herbs...not something you see everyday! Seeing Rome was pretty amazing - And I really loved every city we visited. Sometimes I was sad to leave a city and then when we got to the next one it was just as exciting!!"

James

Clayton, NY

Tour: 08/30/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Excellent. Tour was a good combination of large and small cities, good mix of group activities and individual free time to explore on our own. Liked having breakfasts and half the dinners included. By the end of the tour we felt we saw all the important sights of the regions we visited and had just enough time to shop and learn more about the area on our own. This was our best vacation ever.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing Michelangelo's "David"."

Laura

Hilliard, OH

Tour: 08/30/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I really enjoyed the Italy in 17 days tour. I liked how it included both small towns and big cities. I appreciated the knowledge of the guides and how they brought the sights to life. It was great meeting the other wonderful people on our tour. I liked how there was a balance of structured and non-structured time. It saved so much time having the guides make our reservations so we could just walk right into sights instead of waiting in long lines.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Some of the biggest highlights were enjoying the beautiful Umbrian landscape from our agriturismo in Orvieto and admiring the Villa del Balbianello as we pulled up to it in our water taxi in Lenno while we were staying in Varenna. Our dinner in Florence was also one on the best I'd ever had. I loved the meat, potatoes, grappa and desserts."

Donna

Ballwin, MO

Tour: 08/30/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I had a terrific time. I learned a lot while traveling and best of all, our guide made learning fun!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Nothing in all the years of school could prepare one for its magnificent beauty. By traveling I realized not everyone wants to live in the United States . Italy is beautiful and it's people love their country."

David

Jonesborough, TN

Tour: 08/30/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

A very busy but wonderfully full visit to Italy! Every day brought wonderful sights and things to do. The tour was very well planned and the bus provided a hassle-free means of moving from town to town. Before arriving in each town Robin would give us background history and a summary of the highlights.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Pictures do no convey the awe I felt in the Sistine Chapel I loved Venice. Heard of others who got lost so I brought a compass to help with navigation."

Paul

Clearwater, FL

Tour: 08/30/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Experience of a lifetime! We saw places and points of interest that will stay in our memories forever. Italy is truly a treasure trove of historical beauty and art. The people are warm and welcoming, and the food exceeded our expectations. Thankfully, the brisk walking offset most of the delicious calories.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Seeing the magnificent churches with their beautiful frescoes and sculptures. Particularly wonderful was St. Peter's Basilica. I'm glad I took so many pictures, because it was impossible to process everything we saw during the tour."

Cynthia

Clayton, NY

Tour: 08/30/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We have always been independent travelers and this was our first organized tour. Overall, we were very pleased. We enjoyed the company of our fellow travelers, the "insider" information and the ease of having the Rick Steve's tour guide make all the arrangements. The bus enabled us to enjoy the ride without being stressed by driving or traveling by public transportation. We were also able to see a great many places in a short period of time; we could not have accomplished this on our own.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were many "wow" moments during the tour; Italy is very picturesque! The Dolomites were spectacular, seeing "David" in Florence was a true gift and standing under the columns of the Pantheon was awe inspiring. I also enjoyed the Umbria area and the stop at Assisi."

Eileen

Moraga, CA

Tour: 08/30/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Although we had to leave early due to medical reasons, we had a great time before we left in Venice.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Dolomites and the 5300 BC Iceman tale and museum."

Michael

Hilliard, OH

Tour: 08/30/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

We're seasoned travelers that have had several great trip experiences just by using the Rick Steves tour guides and videos. Although we were hesitant with guided tours in general, we decided to trust the Rick Steves brand to hopefully provide a great experience in Italy. This turned out to be a great decision!! Much like his other travel materials promise, we enjoyed the pleasures and comforts of what travel can be without all other the other, unneeded fluff.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Quaintness of Varena. The vastness of the Dolomites. The social aspect of the contradas in Siena. The little towns stuck on the hill sides of Cinque Terre. How little I was impressed with Venice. The architecture of the architecture everywhere. The Roman ruins and how much they continue to find Rome."

Michael

Eugene, OR

Tour: 08/25/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

This was a great tour with a fantastic leader, driver, and fellow group of travelers.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"I kept having "wow" moments. However, here are some highlights. I really enjoyed our hiking in the dolomites and hiking in the Cinque Terre. I particularly enjoyed the visits to some local artisan shops- the mask maker in Venice, the mosaic shop in Florence, and the stain glass workshop in Sienna. These were special moments."

Joan

Grand Island, NE

Tour: 08/25/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Our guide worked very hard to make this a great experience for all of us and she succeeded. She planned our days, provided ideas for independent activities and included some nice "extras. I especially enjoyed the mask making and stained glass demonstrations. The local guides in each city were very well versed in their topics. We were lucky to have a small group and that allowed us to get to know each other. Group dinners were very enjoyable because of the great food and conversation.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The tour of the Uffizi Gallery in Florence was wonderful. Our guide did a superb job of highlighting some of the great works and explaining important characteristics of the art as well as the development of art, in general. My own knowledge of art is limited and the information she provided allowed me to really appreciate the experience of seeing such masterpieces."

Nancy

Eugene, OR

Tour: 08/25/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Karin managed to get us water taxis for entering and departing Venice. We felt like celebrities!"

Billie

Priest River, ID

Tour: 06/14/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

I thought I had read about Italy, history and a little language to help on the tour but it was so much more than I had even imagined. The art was incredible, food fantastic and the tour guides at each town were so fun and full of information. You could see and hear their pride of their city and country. The people on the tour were the best. No Grumps!

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Too many Wow moments for me to pick one. The Borghese Gallery was a must see and my most fun moment was dining in Florence at Antica Trattoria da Tito. Bobo wasn't there but the staff was great. Suggested most delizioso food and a fun place. Had seen the episode on TV with Bobo and Steve. Great place to go."

Kathleen

Columbus, OH

Tour: 06/14/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

The tour exceeded my expectations, which were already high! It was sp well planned, and included a number of extra surprises (Like the gelato for all in Rome, Bicycle rentals in Lucca, the addition of a singer and accordion player in Venice. Our guide was wonderful and was respectful of us as adults at the same time providing the structure that made the trip flow.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"There were so many! If I have to choose only one, it would be the Gondola ride in Venice at dusk."

Robert

Columbus, OH

Tour: 06/14/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

Best of Italy in 17 Days was a wonderful tour. The variety of sites, the guide, the accommodations, the food, and the balance of structured activities vs time to explore on one's own surpassed my expectations. I had a number of memorable experiences.

Favorite "WOW" moment

"The Cinque Terra! The scenery and the view from our room were wonderful."

Tod

Seattle, WA

Tour: 05/19/13

Overall rating: rating 5 of 5

"Europe Through The Backdoor" was great. We have planned trips to Spain & Portugal on our own using Rick Steves" guide books, but this was our first Rick Steves" tour. However, as recommended, I packed one small suitcase & my Rick Steves" day bag, but by the time we landed in Amsterdam it started to come apart & when we arrived in Milan it was rendered almost useless with straps holding together by mere threads. The "Front Door" can make a lifetime impression. May I suggest a "Front Door" day

Favorite "WOW" moment

"Getting lost in Venice & wadding back to the hotel in the late hours of the night or wee hours of the morning."

Weather

Italy / Milan


Italy / Venice


Italy / Florence


Italy / Rome

Pre-Tour

We've put together some specific information on what you should know about this tour before you go. You'll also find more general information about "Getting Ready for Your Tour" on our Tour FAQ.

Sightseeing On Your Own

If you arrive in Italy before your tour begins, visiting Milan is a logical choice as we don't spend any time there during the tour. Use Rick Steves' Italy guidebook to get oriented. Ride the public transportation, try out a few words of Italian and get over your jet lag with lots of fresh air and exercise.

Here are suggestions for sightseeing in Milan: Leonardo da Vinci's newly restored Last Supper (reserve from home; details in Rick Steves' Italy guidebook) and Europe's third-largest cathedral, the Duomo. Milan is about an hour by train from Varenna, our tour's departure point, making it an easy pre-tour day trip.

The tour includes a Lake Como ferry pass on Day 2, allowing you to explore the many pleasant towns, such as Menaggio and Bellagio. But if you want more time to explore or hike, you may also want to cruise the lake before the tour begins.

Transportation

Most tour members arrive a day or two before the tour begins — and those who don't, wish they had. This allows you ample time to get over jet lag and make the most of the first few days of the tour.

There is more than one way to get to and from your tour. We recommend talking to your travel agent about "open jaw" airline tickets (flying into and out of different cities). Both Milan and Rome are major transportation hubs, making additional travel before or after your tour quite easy.

For information about flying within Europe, ask your travel agent or check Rick's list of European budget airlines

For information about traveling by train, read Rick's train travel and rail pass tips and decide if your travel plans merit a railpass. You can get a rough idea of costs from the above guide or Rick Steves' Italy guidebook.

Prior to your tour departure, you will receive detailed directions on how to get from the airport to your first tour hotel, as well as contact information for your first and last hotels in case you wish to book pre- or post-tour hotel accommodations.

If you need more information about additional European travel or for specific questions about your tour, contact the Tour Department at 425/608-4217 or email tour@ricksteves.com.

Trip Resources

Learn more about Italy: Check out a collection of Rick's TV shows, radio interviews and articles, plus find a list of recommended books and movies.

Packing

While it is important to pack light, there is one item we'd like you to consider including when packing for this tour. There are some great opportunities for hikes in the Dolomites and the Cinque Terre. While hiking boots are not necessary, we recommend you bring a pair of comfortable walking shoes with soles offering good traction.

For ideas on what to pack, check Rick's Packing List and our Women's Packing List.